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A traditional ham is the perfect choice if you’ve got hordes of visitors to feed, so it’s especially good to have over the festive period. A certain crowd pleaser, it tastes equally good served hot or cold. Have you ever wondered what the difference is between ham, bacon and gammon? Bacon is cured pork; gammon is a hind leg cut of bacon; and once gammon is cooked, it’s called ham. Any leftovers from this ham or a turkey can be used in countless other dishes, such as in a creamy filling for vol-au-vents, in risottos or just the ham is excellent for a spaghetti carbonara, so there’s no waste – even the bone will make a wonderful stock.
5.25kg (11lb) leg of gammon (on the bone and skin on)
4 celery sticks, roughly chopped
2 onions, sliced
1 bunch of fresh thyme
1 tbsp black peppercorns
200ml (7fl oz) Irish whiskey
200ml (7fl oz) maple syrup
2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp ground allspice
1 tbsp whole cloves
1 ripe pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 1cm (½in) dice
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 small red onion, finely chopped
finely grated rind and juice of 1 lime
½ large red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
2 tsp freshly grated root ginger
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Although gammon is less salty nowadays, soaking is still a good idea. Place the gammon
in a large pan and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for at least 6 hours or overnight is best, then drain.
Weigh the gammon joint and calculate the cooking time, allowing 20 minutes per 450g
(1lb) plus 20 minutes – a 5.25kg (11lb) joint should take about 4 hours. Place in a large pan, cover with water and bring to the boil, skimming off any scum. Add the celery, onions, thyme and peppercorns and return to the boil, then cover, reduce the heat and simmer until completely tender, occasionally skimming off any scum that rises to the top. If you aren’t sure the gammon is properly cooked, check the bone end – it should come away freely from the gammon joint. Drain and leave until it’s cool enough to handle.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4).
Carefully peel away the skin, leaving the layer of white fat intact. Using a sharp knife, score the fat diagonally to make a diamond pattern, being careful not to cut into the meat. Place the whiskey in a pan with the maple syrup, redcurrant jelly, balsamic vinegar and ground allspice. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes, until slightly thickened. Stud the ham with the cloves and place in a large roasting tin with a little water to prevent the bottom from catching and burning. Brush a layer of the syrup all over the ham, reserving the remainder. Cook for 1 hour, brushing over another layer of the glaze every 15 minutes, until it’s all gone. Remove the cooked ham from the oven, transfer to a serving platter and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the pineapple salsa. Mix the diced pineapple with the sugar. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a high heat, add the pineapple and cook quickly for about 2 minutes to lightly caramelise it. Tip into a bowl and add the onion, lime rind and juice, chilli, herbs and ginger. Season to taste and set aside to allow the flavours to develop.
To serve, carve slices from one side of the ham, cutting diagonally to achieve an even thickness.
When you reach the bone, insert the knife at a flatter angle and slice across the top of
the bone. Turn over the leg to carve slices from the other sides. Arrange on serving plates with spoonfuls of the pineapple salsa.